Easy Perennials For Your Shade Garden

Lily-of-the-Valley and Vinca
Lily-of-the-Valley and Vinca
Bishop's Weed Thrives in Shade
Bishop's Weed Thrives in Shade
Primrose blooming in full shade with Pulmonaria and Astilbe
Primrose blooming in full shade with Pulmonaria and Astilbe


There are more options when planting a shade garden than just ferns and Hostas. We have a lot of shade in our yard and I hate lawns, for many reasons, but that's another article.

Here are a few more ideas for your shade garden:

Primrose - primula These are one of my favorite plants. They do like sunlight in the early spring, but that's not usually a problem as the leaves haven't created any shade yet. They come in many beautiful colors and really brighten up a shady area. They are best placed in the front as they are only about 8" tall. They work very well as a border.

Lily-of-the-Valley - Convallaria majalis These lovely and fragrant shade lovers are perfect for a shade garden - but only if you want a lot of them! They can be quite invasive, but a lot of shade plants are. I treat mine with a sort of benign neglect and they duke it out with the Vinca and Bishop's Weed and they sort things out.

Bishop's Weed/Gout Weed - Apiaceae - This variegated leafy plant turns the lights on in a dark shady area. It too is very invasive, but that's what I'm usually after. For years I had a very shady, very dry area where nothing would grow. So, when I heard about a plant that takes over anyplace I had to try it and it was Bishop's Weed. It did the job as you can see in the photo below. During extremely dry spells it does a very dramatic wilting act, but never fear, one rainstorm and they're back like Arnold in the "Terminator". Keep a close eye on them as they will spread!

Violets - Another bane of the green-grass lovers, but a natural beauty and they are also edible. I have some that bloom purple, speckled. They are pretty, tough and love shade. They too are very invasive - it seems that much to the contrary of many ‘sun' gardeners, shady turf is very popular among violets.

Corydalis - Has lovely fern-like leaves and small yellow flowers that grow very well in shade and even in dry shade. They self seed after established, but don't get out of control like many other shade plants do. It also comes with blue flowers, but it's not as hardy as they yellow.

If you have a shady area and want to create a garden that requires very little tending and a lot of interest, any or all of these plants will do an excellent job!

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Comments 4 comments

Eco gardener 5 years ago

Bishop's weed/goitered is an invasive plant in new england and should NOT be planted!

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Pat Merewether 5 years ago from Michigan Author

Some plants are not allowed in some states, so check your local regulations. Yes, it is very invasive, but there are areas where people want this. Our son lives in an area near a stream and loves this plant and ferns because they fill in the areas where nothing else will grow and prevent soil erosion.

jo 5 years ago

I haven't had a problem with gout weed only in my front beds, cause I am not sure I want it there after all, but it hasn't taken off in my wooded area, where I didn't care. But have you noticed any rust like 'stuff' on it towards fall. If not it might be something else at my house.

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Pat Merewether 5 years ago from Michigan Author

Is that the same as 'Bishop's Weed"? White/green leaves? Yes, I noticed that happen - sometimes I just run over it with the lawn mower (my husband sets it very high) and it grows new leaves - it's hard to get rid of. Thanks for reading my article!

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